WORDS OF THE SPIRIT TO INSPIRE GOD’S POTENTIAL LEADERS: Making your life count for Christ. Real spiritual leaders are in short supply worldwide. This is a message from Biblical & modern history about spiritual leadership & the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit.
God warned in DT 6:10-12 about the Satanic spirit of apathy: “You shall eat & be satisfied…watch yourself lest you forget the Lord who brought you…out of…slavery.” Apathy gets people to accept the status quo, while God’s leaders cut new trails by following the Spirit & God-given wisdom. They make a difference by being different. Leaders love progress. Like Paul, they are not receiving their instructions from the old wine of traditions or worldly wisdom of man, but from the new wine revelations of the Spirit, which they then share.(A) “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”(B) It is typical for people to resist change, which means no growth or progress. To step out against the status quo in pace or direction takes the courage to embrace the Spirit’s new wine, & abandon the known old wine that is habit & custom.
IT IS WELL TO DO WHAT YOU DO WELL. God has planted gifts & talents in you.(C) He does not make robotic cookie cutter people, but rather God creates unique individuality. Humility is discerning His gifts & purpose for your life, & fulfilling that. You add the most good, where you are the most good. It has become recognized that institutions will keep promoting their people until a person rises to his level of incompetence (this is called the Peter principle)…so over time…an institution becomes increasing incompetent. Humility is recognizing & obediently using what God has given you. So God asks, “What is that in your hand?”(D)…in other words He is asking us, what do you have, that I, God Almighty, can use?? David had a slingshot in his hand. Christ’s audience had 5 loaves & 2 fishes. He’s said He would take what seemed inadequate & make it adequate.(E)
REINFORCING FAILURE. Americans often reinforce failure, while some other cultures reinforce success. The Russian army operates the opposite of the U.S. army. If for example: one unit is successful, one holding its own, & the third in trouble, U.S. army policy is to reinforce the one in trouble. Russian military doctrine is to reinforce success. (They used this policy w/ devastating effect on the Germans in WW 2.) Christian ministers will spend lots of vain effort to develop talents that they don’t have (& never will have) to become “well-rounded”, jack-of-all-trades ministers. This follows Amer. culture, whereas the Europeans specialize & develop their good skills to a high level. History shows repeatedly that the American idea of reinforcing failure fails to create the success that reinforcing success achieves!!
INVEST IN YOUR TALENTS. Nor is it Biblical to neglect the gifts God gives you, to focus on trying to create what He did not give you. Give what you have over to God to use, rather than focusing on what He did not provide. We are each a small part (like a cell) of a large functioning body. One sows & another reaps.(F) Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”(G) He understood that we are all “fellow workers” (i.e. a team). Leaders are not those with the smartest brains & strongest muscles, but those who have the gumption & courage to give what they have to God to use, and then to act when led by the Spirit. If they are not qualified at something & not led by the Spirit to do it, then it is an opportunity for God to use someone else. The apostles realized they were doing things they weren’t qualified for, so they delegated things to Stephen & Philip, who in turn became leaders.(H) Misalignments mean unnecessary wear & tear. A high I.Q. is not insight, esp. not insight from the Spirit; plus w/out the fruit of the Spirit, you won’t be a leader worth following. The Word of God tells us the Spirit will guide us.(I)
THE LEADER ROBERT MORRISON (1782-1834). Morrison learned the beginning of Chinese in England, & in 1807 went to Canton, China in spite of the opium running Br. East India Co. The co. would not transport Christian missionaries. He translated the Bible into Chinese, completed an English-Chinese dictionary & founded an Anglo-Chinese college in Malacca. His leadership laid the groundwork for the modern evangelization of China. But his conversion was the result of a little known hero led by the Spirit. Morrison was led to Christ by a young girl who kept hunting him down & giving this abandoned street urchin suits of clothes to go to church. She would not give up, and the third time she found him after giving him 2 Sunday suits and receiving false promises that he’d come to church, he gave his life to Christ. This is an example of the Spirit empowering a mere girl to raise up a child of no consequence roaming abandoned on the streets into a great man of God.
A TIME OF MORAL ANARCHY. The approx. 400 yr. Biblical era of the Judges was a time just like today when “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”(J) There were 14 Spirit-empowered judges during that time period, & it was followed by the period when David slew Goliath. David was like his descendant Messiah who said, “I can do nothing on my own initiative.”(K) The story of David beating Goliath has many spiritual lessons in it on leadership. First, Saul, although he had a title & authority did not have true spiritual leadership & competence. While Israel’s army had been busy under Saul, they were not being productive. We must not confuse busy-ness w/ productiveness. David had both the courage to face Goliath, & a careful approach. A true leader will use both courage & carefulness. Let us contrast the leadership of David fighting Goliath vs. the lack of leadership of the King Saul who had the title of leader. David was focused on success, careful in his thinking & accepted risks. Saul was focused on failure, fearful in his emotions & avoided risks. David’s courageous leadership turned a fearful Israel army into a mass of courage. Likewise, when David slew Goliath, the Philistines’ courage flipped into fear…all because of one small leader. About 200 yrs. earlier during the time of the judges, when God would raise up a godly judge, then the following pattern would occur: that judge would defeat God’s enemies & turn people to God, but when the person would die, Israel, esp. the next generation, who did not have first-hand knowledge of that judge, would then backslide into apostasy & pagan deviltry. The point is that one single leader can change the spiritual direction of an entire nation.
GIDEON, RAISED BY GOD FOR HIS WORK, & EMPOWERD BY THE SPIRIT. Gideon (1249 B.C.-1209 B.C.) was a true courageous Spirit-led leader, who eventually became a judge for God.(L) Like today, his generation was morally polluted & into doing one’s own thing. God said, “You have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done?” (M) Gideon was not perfect, but he was willing to act on things, so YHWH nurtures him. God’s angel finds Gideon, & says, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.” Here we note that God sees Gideon as to whom he can become. God sees our potential when He looks at us. And then God promised the presence of the Holy Spirit to Gideon to overcome His enemies; & the Spirit clothes Himself w/ Gideon (N). This was not positive thinking used by churches today, but God’s Spirit’s powerful presence. We need God’s presence during difficulties. We are not adequate in & by ourselves.(O) Gideon wonders if God cares about Israel.(P) God answers. It is like the early church, “You will receive power [from the Spirit].”(Q) The first Christians abandoned religion for the power & way of Christ. As the leader Paul said, “Follow me, as I follow Christ.” Christ in turn followed God the Father, not doing his own will, but the Father God’s will.(R) So please note: good leaders also have the ability to follow!
After Israel repents & cries out to YHWH, He is willing to raise up Gideon.(S) Gideon takes what is in his heart, and publicly demonstrates his loyalty to God by destroying the Baal altar on his dad’s property. Again he has courage & carefulness. He tears it all down at night with 10 servants. And the next day he is threatened to death by the Baal worshippers. Gideon raises a 32,000 man army, which God trims down to 300 men, which means God wants his 300 men to defeat a 135,000 army. That puts the odds against Gideon’s band worse than 400 to 1 odds. Gideon shows faith & courage through this whole process. Plus Gideon is humble before God’s angel.(T) The way God leads Gideon to fight shows the importance in quality to serve in God’s front line army, as well as confidence, good timing & godliness. Using a Biblical principle of turning our weaknesses into strengths (U), Gideon’s band follows the Spirit & wins a great victory.
As the spiritual leader Joshua told Israel, “choose this day who you will serve.” (V) Today, we have Christians who are defeated & frustrated like the people in Gideon’s day; this is the consequence of sin. It is part of the war between the two kingdoms. Nominal Christians who believe in nothing, will change nothing for the better. And no change equals no gain. But God can use you even if you are not perfect. Desiring leadership can be a good thing(W), yet He is not looking for status seekers (X) or phonies. He has created people in all shapes & colors, so he obviously was not stuck on one pattern. He sees you for what you can be. Christ said, “Lo I am with you always.” God’s Spirit’s presence can transform you into something great that He can use!! We must move forward, forget ourselves, & allow His Spirit to have its way. That may mean like Christ, we break the conventional religious rules (of Churchi-nice-ity) to challenge the enemies of God with Spirit-inspired faith. This is the faith that propels leaders to overcome the World Order.
(A) GAL 1:12, 1 COR 2:12-13 cf. MK 7:6-9 (B) COL 3:23 (C) JN 3:27, 1 COR 12 (D) EX 4:2 (E) cf. HEB 11:32-34, JUDG 3:31, 4:14-15 (F) JN 4:36-38 (G) 1 COR 3:5-9 (H) ACTS 6:1-7 (I) JN 16:13 (J) JUDG 21:25 (K) JN 5:30 (L) JUDG 7:17, et al. (M) JUDG 2:2 (N) JUDG 6:34 (O) 2 COR 3:5 (P) cf. JUDG 6:13 (Q) ACTS 1:8 (R) JN 5:30, 6:38, JN 8:26, 28 & JN 12:49, 14:24 (S) JUDG 6:7-10 (T) JUDG 6:15 (U) HEB 11:32-34 cf. JUDG 3:31, 4:14-15 (V) JOSH 24:16 (W) 1 TIM 3:1 (X) JER 45:3 & others.